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Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 14:15 UK
Polish schoolboy wins UK citizenship award

Maciej Szukala, 15, says he wants to help young migrants feel at home

When Polish schoolboy Maciej Szukala moved with his mother to Wrexham five years ago, he couldn't speak any English.

The 15-year-old found it such an isolating experience he became determined to help other young migrants to settle into a new way of life.

Now, the Rhosnesni High pupil has won a national accolade for citizenship, teaching English to new pupils and helping young refugees receiving support from the local Red Cross.

Maciej has showed the little ones how easy it is to fit into the community
Headteacher Gareth Hughes.

Maciej said: "People think because you come from a different country you are different but you are not. You speak a different language, but it doesn't mean anything. Yes, the culture is different, but you can mix with any culture."

Maciej has a long list of achievements which brought him to the attention of the Rotary Club of Wrexham Yale. And its members nominated him in the organisation's national awards, the Rotary Young Citizen 2010.

Rhosnesni head teacher Gareth Hughes said: "He has acted as a trailblazer and showed the little ones how easy it is to fit into the community."

As well as his work with other migrants, Maciej is deputy head boy at Rhosnesni; he coaches basketball, and plays for the Wales Development Squad and Glyndwr Nets Under 16s; he's a children's commissioner for the UN; and has won Young Enterprise Achiever of the Year for North Wales.

Maciej said: "I'm just trying to help young people and make their lives better."

Rotary award winners, including Maciej, receive a cash donation of £500 to their projects and a visit to the BBC News studios as well as a tour of the BBC TV Centre in London.

Former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq presents the awards at Rotary's annual conference in Bournemouth (17 April). Plus, the finalists' stories are being filmed for the BBC News Channel


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